Wild Sabbath

As many of you know, I’ve been pondering Sabbath for awhile. The book I wrote, published in 2018 (Soul Tending: Journey into the Heart of Sabbath, Skylight Path Publishing) was only the beginning of a what seems to be a life long journey. My brain continues to chew on the idea that Sabbath is the least kept command of the Ten Commandments. In this country we aren’t wired very well to surrender our time unless it is pleasurable or brings in money.

The Ten Commandments in the good book tell us, “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy“. Holiness is something set aside. Set apart.

I would like to add my own version… ‘remember the Sabbath, to keep yourself wild’. Perhaps wildness is a set aside state of holiness in this time where we have come to the end of nature. Our induced Anthropocene Industrial Age haunts us. Daily, human activity strangles, destroys, manipulates, controls or blindly uses up almost every aspect of what is called “nature” on the planet, including our own selves. We’ve forgotten that every single being on the planet is alive, with it’s own inherent dignity—not a nameless “natural resource”. The thread to wild places has been ignorantly and wantonly severed. Our 21st century western culture is obsessed with the next word, image, or thought vomited out of social media, or the evening news. Wild Sabbath is about diving below all that is making us sick and dis-eased to find our original blessing and the treasure of worth and belonging in a whole World Wide Web of life.

I’ve heard that the God who founded Sabbath is a wild Deity. This God prefers to hang out with the people in the remote wilderness where culture evaporates and survival is about interdependence. The people who road- tested this Sabbath, with their leader Moses, found themselves far from the engorged “fleshpots” of their oppressed but safe existence. This Divine Presence did not seem to care about preserving the strange addictions and habits cultivated and domesticated in society—as much as setting people’s hearts free to roam.

What do I mean by a”wild Sabbath”? The dictionary defines “wild” as something that has not been significantly modified or changed from it’s original state. Undomesticated. What is wild in a person might be “unrestrained, crazy or enthusiastic”. A Wild Sabbath then, might be about recovering that which is most essential and innate in the original Divine roadmap for sabbath, planet earth and her inhabitants. Wild Sabbath might not necessarily be about even setting foot in a church building——which by the way, is usually filled with sacred artifacts and symbolic objects made from the earth herself—wood, water, rock, paper, glass, wine, bread, light.

No, I imagine Wild Sabbath is about going outside with the rest of the inhabitants—who were also given Sabbath as a gift of rest, healing and rejuvenation. There, the gathered worshipping human communities meets the wild Creator in other life forms, finding our own recovery, sanity and solace away from the useless commodification of our lives.

OR, we gather in urban places wrecked from their wildness in order to begin to connect with a vision to revitalize these places to their original beauty. One woman has begun to do this holy work in urban devastation. You must see it to believe it.

If this time of the 21st c. is not about re-weaving the sacred web of life back together when a community gathers, I’m not sure what religion is for. I’ve heard the roots of religion are ‘re-ligio” to re-ligament. If we don’t begin the slow and laborious process of mending the broken and tattered strands between human and all other species—elemental, four footed, finned, winged, slithering and more—invoking sacred space, respect and relationship—the human project will not last long.

I’m not the first one who thought of this idea. Wise ones already dreamt up Wild Church. It’s a beautiful and powerful vision. Check out one such wild church in Fresno CA

I just happen to like Wild Sabbath because I hope it can expand beyond the architecture of “church” and “churched” people.

Wild Sabbath must be for the whole biotic community. Not just humans.

8 thoughts on “Wild Sabbath

  1. Thank you, Anita, for sharing more of your wise and wild thoughts. John and I have been enjoying 3 months of a long Wild Sabbath from our usual work of church and counseling – still have 2 weeks…🤗 I told “my church” on my last Sunday there in July, some of my thoughts and dreams of Wild Church. I’d been dreaming about it for may retirement plan, but on that day, I realized we were already practicing it as we’ve been meeting outside under the trees between our sanctuary and graveyard – alive in the present and our history.

    Your post led to an interesting discussion here. Maria said both words – church and sabbath feel too restricted to her – to Christianity and Judaism; to people who went to seminary is how she put it. Her suggestion is “Worship” – Wild Worship or Worship in the Wild.. I probably don’t need to invent more new words for this beautiful concept, unless it would mean inviting more people, like Maria, who has little time for “church” into my world of worshipping our Creator. It’s giving me more to think about. I’m not ready to retire yet, and don’t know where I’ll be in a few years, of course, but for right now, we’re so delighted to be able to offer “Worship in the Wild” here at FernRock Retreat for travelers of all kinds; so many colors and nationality and cultures are gracing our place. Part of John’s sabbatical work is renovating another cabin with Maria’s help, so we can accommodate even more…..

    Here we go for a wild bike ride for worship today! Thanks for your thoughts and love. 💜 to you and Kenneth! Sandy

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    1. I love that you have been doing Wild Sabbath outside with your congregation and also that you engaged Maria in a conversation about this! Wild Worship is also fabulous! But is worship a ‘christianized’ word? Either way, Fern Rock was meant to be….a seed that is reaching her fruition. I’d be at your church in a heartbeat if I could. Glad you and John are Sabbaticaling together. You are living the dreams;)

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  2. Anita, hey. Hope you are well. Lovely post, as always. (Been missing your posts) Was deeply disturbed recently when I heard about Stephen’s being “ranched.” (Will it never end?) There’s always so much mystery around these occurances, at least for someone as peripheral as I. Despite his extraordinary gifts, at his age and stage, being “liberated,” as my father would say, in such a limited field and market as is offered by NM, seems to me to make Stephen scarily vulnerable. I’d like to send him a “care package,” to let him know I’m thinking of him. Do you have his home address? Fondly, Jill

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  3. My dear, always such a pleasure to receive your cogent, incisive, truth-telling, and altogether refreshing reflections. What I’m sharing with you in return is what I just forwarded to the dear daughter of my sweetheart whose 35th b’day we celebrated last night (the daughter, not my sweetheart – no “cougar” I!) She is one of the pastors of Mercy Community where I worship – a communion of mostly unhoused persons. Having postponed her doctoral work to raise her own daughter, who is now four, she is now reapplying to Emory University’s Ethics program. I was happy both to introduce her to you and to employ your article in service to knitting some sense into her seemingly disparate calls. Much love to you- Jill

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    1. Thank you Jill, for sharing with your sweetheart’s daughter. We are all struggling in these disparate times to find our voice and place as old structures and ways of being seem to be disintegrating around us. I didn’t see what you forwarded to her. Maybe it doesn’t translate into this comment box? I’ll also send this to your email:) Much love, Anita

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